The validity, reliability, responsiveness and applicability of observation sedation-scoring instruments for use with adult patients in the emergency department: A systematic literature review

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Journal Article
Australasian Emergency Nursing Journal, 2015, 18 (1), pp. 1 - 23
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© 2014 College of Emergency Nursing Australasia Ltd. Aim: This paper reports a systematic literature review examining the range of published observational sedation-scoring instruments available in the assessment, monitoring and titration of continuous intravenous sedation to critically ill adult patients in the Emergency Department, and the extent to which validity, reliability, responsiveness and applicability of the instruments has been addressed. Background: Emergency nurses are increasingly responsible for the ongoing assessment, monitoring and titration of continuous intravenous sedation, in addition to analgesia for the critically ill adult patient. One method to optimise patient sedation is to use a validated observational sedation-scoring tool. It is not clear however what the optimal instrument available is for use in this clinical context. Methods: A systematic literature review methodology was employed. A range of electronic databases were searched for the period 1946-2013. Search terms incorporated "sedation scale", "sedation scoring system", "measuring sedation", and "sedation tool" and were used to retrieve relevant literature. In addition, manual searches were conducted and articles retrieved from those listed in key papers. Articles were assessed using the Critical Appraisal Skills Program (CASP) making sense of evidence tools. Results: A total of 27 observational sedation-scoring instruments were identified. Sedation-scoring instruments can be categorised as linear or composite, the former being the most common. A wide variety of patient behaviours are used within the instruments to measure depth and quality of patient sedation. Typically sedation-scoring instruments incorporated three patient behaviours, which were then rated to generate a numerical score. The majority of the instruments have been subjected to validity and reliability testing, however few have been examined for responsiveness or applicability. Conclusions: None of the 27 observational sedation-scoring instruments were designed or trialled within ED. The Richmond Agitation and Assessment Scale was identified as most suitable to be trialled prospectively within an Australian ED.
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